BIDDEFORD — When Josephine Ewing was young, she used to spend summer and fall weekends playing with her cousins on the coast of Maine, swimming, milking cows and jumping onto piles of hay.

Since 1929, when Louise Parsons Ewing bought the more than 100-acre Biddeford Pool property, known as Timber Point, several generations of Ewings have played there and made similar memories.

From now on, many more people will be able to make their own memories on the 98-acre parcel, including a 13-acre island that was acquired by the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge last year.

Through the combined efforts of the Trust for Public Lands, the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, the Friends of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which together raised $5.2 million in a unique public/private partnership, one of the last large, undeveloped parcels in southern coastal Maine was purchased from the Ewing family in December.

On Thursday, the family was recognized for its stewardship of the land.

In addition, several hundred of the more than 600 private donors, who together gave more than $2 million to make the purchase possible, were also thanked.

Now the land will be forever preserved. It includes about 2.25 miles of coastline and many more acres of wetlands, forest and fields, and is home to a variety of rare shorebirds and other wildlife.

The land is part of the Little River Division of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. There are 11 divisions of the refuge, which includes land from Kittery to Cape Elizabeth. Across the country, there are approximately 560 national wildlife refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Prior to a celebration of the purchase, held at the home of Eve and Peter McPheeters in Biddeford Pool, several tours of Timber Point took place.

Edward Sullivan of Cape Porpoise said he always admired the property and wanted to visit. When donations were sought from the public to make the purchase possible, “I was very excited to help support it,” he said.

“It’s beautiful,” said Jean Ciarametaro, while touring the property. Timber Point is the scenic viewshed of Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport, where Ciarametaro has lived for 23 years.

“I’d look across the river and I said, ”˜I hope I never see houses over there,’” she said. Now she’s pleased that will never happen, she said.

Not only is the land itself unique, said Scott Kahan, regional chief of the northeast for the National Wildlife Refuge System, so was the way the purchase was arranged.

“I love the conservation story,” he said, “of the community and the public getting together.”

In addition to the money raised through private donations, Maine’s congressional delegation assisted with the project, securing about $3.2 million in federal money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This fund does not include tax dollars, but is made up from money raised through oil and gas leases.

It was a difficult and emotional decision for her family to sell the property, said Ewing. However, she said, now that the decision to sell was made, “I feel great” that the land will be preserved.

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 324 or [email protected].

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